REVIEW: Hepa-Titus – “Gettin’ It On”

Originally published in Popdose on Nov. 5, 2014

Ipecac Records devotees might be led, for good reason, to believe that the Kevin Rutmanis narrative had come to a close. Just don’t tell that to Rutmanis.

Let’s catch up for the newbies. Rutmanis, a founding member of The Cows, was enlisted by King Buzzo and Dale Crover to play bass in the most recent full-time three-man line-up of The Melvinsaround the time they jumped to Ipecac Records in the late 90s, before parting ways with the group about, jeez, nine years ago. Around the same time, Rutmanis also split with Tomahawk, the uber-supergroup featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard and John Stanier of Helmet and Battles.

Silence.

So much for that.

Rutmanis, in all his strange glory, then randomly popped up in the recently released Qui video, this one for “I Definitely Love You,” twitching and generally exuding an air of sexual battery toward the band’s cross-dressing members. Sometimes-Qui-frontman David Yow also appeared, adding to the tension, and, of course, there was the muted swearing and the sweaty naked man gyrating in front of a piano – like you do, like you do.

And, now, here comes Hepa-Titus, Rutmanis’ new band and an eight-song LP, Gettin’ It On, complete with cover image of a three-eyed Mickey Mouse shooting junk into a bloody Donald Duck. And it’s pretty good.

The disc is vintage Amphetamine Reptile – sludgy bass, jabbing and razor-sharp guitar, and drums that alternately roll or pound together all of the elements. Think mid-period Cosmic Psychos or a sluggish Helmet or anything off Dope, Guns and Fucking In The Streets. While Rutmanis fans will, no doubt, listen for Cows clues – they’re there for the taking – this is not just a trip down Haze’s memory lane.

Sounding at times minimalist and at times explosive, Hepa-Titus darts between that familiar Melvins hybrid of punk, metal or grunge (much of the record, actually) and oddly placed spoken-word or found-sound narratives (opener “Adam’s Boogie”). There are catchy descents into madness (“Death Anyhow Is Innocent and Natural,” whose bass-driven opening will incite many a moshpit) and doom-laden plodding (“Down Chuck”). The slithery “Live Friend! Live!,” I think, may be the sound of a punk band slowly losing its grip on it all – in, y’know, a good kind of way.

And, though the closing “songs,” more noise collages at times than verse/chorus/verse molds, could’ve benefited from a little more heavy-handed mixing or editing, the record holds together. It’s not Album of the Year material (no Patton pun intended) but not everything has to be. Some records just need to make some noise. Hepa-Titus, in this respect, succeeds. You heard it here first: Rutmanis, Adam Paine, Sterling Riley are onto something. Dial in.

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